Life Advice



Ask Amy: A parent confronts a sad Thanksgiving

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My mid-30s daughter lived with a partner for 10 years. He is a horrid and manipulative man.

I accepted that as an adult she could make her own life choices, however misguided I may think they are.

As a "couple," she and her partner attended holiday gatherings at my home.

About a year ago, I heard from my other daughters that she had become engaged to this man, although she never mentioned this to me.

Not long ago, my daughter was in a roadway accident, and she died suddenly and tragically.

Although she is gone, her former partner continues to consider himself a family member, and this is a sentiment that is shared by my late daughter's two sisters.

I have no such feelings about him, and wish never to see him again.

Thanksgiving is coming soon, and he expects that he will share a place at our table.

I really do not want this man at the table, although I respect my other daughters' wish to have him be a part of their lives.

How would you recommend that I communicate my sentiments to him and to my daughters?

– Grieving Dad

Dear Grieving: I’m so sorry your family is going through this. I assume that Thanksgiving will be a tough and possibly sorrowful day.

If you don’t want to share air with this horrid and manipulative man, you shouldn’t. It’s entirely your choice.

You should simply tell your daughters that they can associate with anyone they want to, but “I won’t spend any time with this guy – not at my home or elsewhere. It’s that simple.”

You already know that this man is manipulative, and so you should be prepared for some manipulation. He might use your daughters to try to persuade you to welcome him for the first Thanksgiving after your daughter’s death. And the answer from you will be, “Absolutely not.”

Dear Amy: My fiancé and I are planning our wedding and have chosen two of my cousins (ages 8 and 14) to be ushers.

Instead of having a traditional flower girl, we decided to have my fiancé’s cousins (who range between the ages of 3 to 6) be the “flower gremlins.”

My family is very upset by this decision and are on the brink of cutting me out of the family.

They really wanted my 8-year-old cousin to serve as a traditional flower girl. That is what they were expecting, but they didn’t realize that my fiancé has other family members that we wanted to also be involved in our wedding.

We explained to them that my cousins will still be just as involved in our wedding as the “flower gremlins.” They will still get ready with the rest of the bridal party, get a corsage/boutonnière, and take pictures with us.


They have cut out members of the family before.

I was already warned by my mom that if I don’t mend relations with my family, then I will meet the same fate.

Overall, my fiancé and I are very hurt by their reactions and want nothing more than their love and support.

How can I mend my relationship with them?

– On the Brink

Dear On the Brink: Even though I don’t really know what a “flower gremlin” is, overall I think your idea of involving all of these children in your ceremony is quite charming.

But decisions about how to design your wedding celebration should not be about my taste – or your family’s.

If you want to dress up like Princess Leia and have the kids be little Ewok attendants – a more loving family would accept and support your choices.

Your family has a history of cutting out family members. If they would do this over something so trivial, then it might be time for you to stiffen your spine, state your very reasonable intentions and expectations, and refuse to let them manipulate and control you.

Dear Amy: I recently received a baby shower invitation that had several “requests,” one of which is: “Mom and Dad have worked so hard on the registry, please do not stray if you choose to bring a gift that day!”

This effectively prohibits many types of gifts, including handmade items or gifts traditionally given by our family.

What should I do? Pick a gift I don’t want to give? Decline the invitation and not go?

Take a gift of my choosing regardless of this request?

– Baffled in the Burbs

Dear Baffled: If you choose to attend, I think you should respect the wishes of the parents, however banal.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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